Blu-ray Review: Overboard (2018)

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Directed with a "look ma, no hands!" approach by Garry Marshall, 1987's screwball romantic comedy Overboard is memorable mostly for the chemistry of real life couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and Marshall's ability to keep things moving fast enough so that you don't dwell on the sexist goings-on (see also: Marshall's Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride, just to name a few). Essentially a rich bitch comeuppance picture, from the very first time I saw Overboard as a child, I thought it was ridiculously out-of-touch.

Starring in director Rob Greenberg's gender reversal remake, while Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez do not have the chemistry of the original leads (though few romcom teams do) let alone that of the Titanic alter-egos of their character namesakes Kate and Leo, they're two genuine, funny, affable pros who know how to work with even the most basic of comedic material and use it to their advantage. And that's exactly what they do here, resulting in a remake that manages to surpass the original in terms of sheer comedic storytelling alone, while coming up short as a romantic comedy.

Perhaps recognizing that, the film's trio of writers including Leslie Dixon (who penned the original and also came up with the new story), Greenberg, and Wedding Crashers and We're the Millers scripter Bob Fisher make the wise decision to make this Overboard less of a romcom and more of an ensemble family comedy which plays to the strengths of its cast.

Led by Mom's Faris, Overboard is filled with small screen veterans like Eva Longoria, Swoosie Kurtz, and Mel Rodriguez. And while Rodriguez in particular is as much a scene stealer here as he is on Fox's sadly canceled The Last Man on Earth, he's got some competition in a welcome return to film for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Sliding Doors favorite, John Hannah, who has plenty of experience stealing focus and working with talented, diverse ensembles.

Playing around with not just gender but also culture, class, ethnicity, Overboard uses the same daffy screwball era inspired premise of the original, only with Eugenio Derbez in the Goldie Hawn role as the spoiled, egocentric son and heir to one of Mexico's wealthiest family businesses, Leonardo Montenegro who spends most of his time most of his time drinking and partying aboard his super yacht.

Busily studying to become a nurse, Faris's Kate works a number of jobs to provide for her three daughters. Crossing paths with Leonardo after she boards the yacht as a cleaner, Derbez's playboy hits on, insults, and belittles Faris within seconds of meeting her – later firing Kate and dumping her employer's expensive carpet cleaner in the water when, instead of fetching him a snack, she had the gall to tell him off.

Falling off the yacht and hitting his head in the middle of a powerful storm, in a karmic twist of fate, Leonardo winds up with no memory off the coast of Oregon. Desperate after receiving an eviction notice, in a twist that wouldn't have been out of place in a Myrna Loy or Doris Day movie, Kate's friend Theresa (Longoria) talks her into claiming Leonardo as her husband, in order to give her a hand until she can pass her upcoming nursing exam.

Feeling (slightly) better about her decision after – like something straight out of a telenovela – Leonardo's sister walks away from him in order take his eventual place in the family business, Kate and her three daughters eagerly play along.

Welcoming "Leo" home with chores, a job working construction alongside Theresa's husband Bobby (Rodriguez), as well as an amusing backstory to keep him out of her bedroom, the film rebounds from a rocky start before perking up considerably in its last two acts.

Moving past the original's Taming of the Shrew premise, as an ensemble family comedy, 2018's Overboard benefits from the stronger foundation. Building in more backstory for the characters which pays off in delightful ways, in addition to a few sea movie Easter eggs, whether just in spirit or through comedic nods, this one is recalls past hits from Arthur in an early scene with Derbez and Hannah to Mystic Pizza and Return to Me in the way it delightfully weaves in Theresa and Bobby.

Distinctly international in flavor, from Leonardo's Norwegian crew to his Scottish right hand man, Overboard scores some great laughs while reflecting our global melting pot. And while that could've been played up even more, you have to hand it to producer Derbez and the filmmaking team, for daring to think big while moving past predictable American and Mexican culture clash jokes.

Made with the best of intentions, while it easily rises above the original in terms of its overall plot, from the lukewarm romantic chemistry of its otherwise charming leads to a few bumps in the film's open and close, Overboard suffers from an overall rushed feeling. Nonetheless slightly above average as a film you can bring your family to see – tweens and up – and feel good about, much like its predecessor, Overboard plays best when, like Leonardo, you're feeling down, out, or under the weather and need cheering up.

The first planned remake announced by Derbez, Fisher, and Greenberg, the team will return with their take on Francis Veber's hilarious 2006 comedy The Valet.

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